Also known as Holter monitoring, this technique involves continuously recording an electrocardiogram (ECG) over 24 hours. It is usually done as an outpatient. This test can help to diagnose symptoms such as palpitations, which don't happen very often and which rarely happen in the doctor's surgery!
Small patches, set in sticky plaster, are put on your chest. Wires are attached to these and are taped down. The wires lead to a small portable tape recorder, similar to a personal stereo, which you wear on a belt round your waist. The whole system is very comfortable and quiet so you should hardly be aware of it. You can do everything you normally do, except have a bath or shower. It is best to wear loose clothing.
The doctor will ask you to spend a normal day and do any activity which might bring on your symptoms.
What can the test show?
A 24-hour ECG recording can give a lot of useful information. For example, it can show if you may need treatment. It can also reassure you if you think you have palpitations but are in fact just 'over-aware' of your normal heartbeat.
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